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A healthy trolley for a healthy life

31 March 2021 Momentum Multiply

Philip Marais from Momentum Multiply shares his insights into what it means to shop healthy and make better choices when it comes to what you put in your trolley.

It’s no secret that South Africans are generally quite unhealthy. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that, in South Africa, 70% of women, 31% of men, and 13% of children are overweight or obese. The question is: what are we going to do about it?

The reality is that our poor state of health has a lot to do with how we shop. According to Philip Marais, Head of Health Solutions at leading rewards provider, Momentum Multiply, we need to take stock of our trolleys before checkout.

“It’s far too easy to give in to bad eating habits when your kitchen is stocked with sweets, processed food and sugary drinks. We need to realise that the road to good health is found in the trolley you fill when you go grocery shopping,” says Marais.

He says good health starts with good choices. “Like anything worth doing, shifting one’s lifestyle requires effort and consistency, but it always starts with the right information.”

First things first – follow the list
Unpreparedness is the heart of distraction. If you don’t know exactly what you want from the grocery store, then Marais says that you’re bound to get distracted as you frantically fill your trolley aisle by aisle. “Having a list will help you get through the store more quickly and help keep your healthy eating goals in sight.” With Covid-19 and the national lockdown, many retailers now offer home delivery, which makes it even simpler to get your groceries home.

“Another tip is to never shop on an empty stomach,” advises Marais. According to a 2013 study published by JAMA Internal Medicine people who hadn’t eaten all afternoon chose higher calorie foods in a simulated supermarket than those who were given a snack just before online food shopping. “So, write your list, have a snack and only then should you head to the shops.”

Produce the right results
“It will come as no surprise that the fruits and vegetables section of the grocery store is where you want to focus most of your weekly grocery shopping. If you’re going to take your time in any section of the store, make it this one,” says Marais.

“Find those fruits and veggies that you and your family love – and don’t be afraid to try some new ones, incorporating them into different recipes. It’s good to have an assortment of colourful fruits and vegetables as these colours reflect the vitamins and minerals they contain.”

Whole grains over processed any day
When it comes to breads, pastas and cereals, Marais says you should always opt for whole grain foods. “Whole grains give your body more nutrients and are a great source of dietary fibre, magnesium and other minerals.”

White bread and processed, sugary cereals are the type of grains that he suggests you avoid. “The reality is that grains are only processed to become tastier and give them a longer shelf life by removing fats from the outer layer of the grain that can spoil faster.”

“However, this process also negatively impacts the grain’s nutritional profile. Plus, including whole grains in your diet has shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.”

What about the meat?
According to Marais there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to buying the healthiest meat. Of course, it doesn’t get healthier than a plain skinless chicken breast or fillet of fish – but you can add more variety to your trolley and still maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“A lean cut of pork or beef are great sources of protein. Don’t limit yourself to only white meat, but make sure you pick the right cuts of fresh red meat, and limit excess fat as far as possible.”

Marais says that red meat is very nutritious, especially if sourced from free-range animals that have been grass-fed and ethically reared. “Red meat is also a great source of iron, B12, zinc, creatine and various other nutrients.”

He also advises that you try to be aware of salt hidden in processed meats. “Try to limit your intake of processed meats such as polony and vienna sausages, if you have a choice.”

Get rewarded for making healthy trolley choices
To look after your body, you need to be vigilant in the way you shop. Sure, it can cost a bit more to fill your trolley with healthier foods, but many people can subsidise this through a rewards programme.

“Most good rewards programmes will even incentivise you to shop for healthy food by having grocery stores as rewards partners where you can redeem cashbacks and earn points. However, Multiply members will get cashbacks on their entire trolley and not just on healthy foods at grocery partners.”

Marais believes it’s possible for South Africans to turn their lives around and start making those simple lifestyle changes that will change their lives for the better. Try to cultivate just one shopping habit that you can maintain over several weeks and see if you reap the benefits.

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